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Dealing With Emotional Infidelity

 

 

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Are YOU afraid your significant other is having an emotional affair?  Call it whatever you want - emotional infidelity, emotional cheating, emotional affairs -whatever the name, it hurts, and you may not be sure what to do about it.  Read on...

So, let's play a game. I'm going to tell you a little story and you guess what's wrong with this picture:

Your boyfriend has just had the worst day ever at work. He lost an important client, his boss yelled at him, and he learned that the bonus check he was counting on won't be coming through.

Dejected, he decides that the only way he's going to shake off how crappy he feels is by spending a little time with his special woman.

So he heads to the romantic little wine bar around the corner from his apartment.

"Tell me all about your day..." his companion coos softly.

"It was awful. I'm just glad I have you confide in," your boyfriend replies.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Your boyfriend's "special woman" isn't you... it's his best friend.

OUCH.

Today's DISH is all about how to deal when you're man is best friends with a woman - or is friendly with multiple women - and what you can (and should) do about it.

If you've ever found yourself wondering whether those pangs of jealousy or insecurity you feel (toward the "other woman" he claims is harmless) are normal or warranted, then this DISH is for you.

And if you've never experienced this situation, do yourself a favor and read on anyway...

...because you never know if it will happen in your future - or if an "emotional infidelity" is actually occurring right under your nose without you knowing about it.

There are 2 juicy Dramas of the Week that deal with this very topic... so let's get DISHING!


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DRAMA OF THE WEEK #1: "All of His Friends Are Women!"

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Here's a recent email from a reader:

"Paige -

I love your book!


Here's my dilemma: I have been dating a guy for 9 months now and he is great. Only problem is all his friends seem to be women.

I got quite upset about one woman who he meets 2 or 3 times a week while the husband is away all week on business. He says she is just a friend and is not at all attracted to her, but they meet up at least twice a week for a coffee, or they go out drinking together (in the company of others) and he visits her after work sometimes. I feel like I am in competition with her.

And today he told me that he invited another one of his female group to his house and they shared a bottle of wine. She is going through a breakup with her husband. He says he is not attracted to her, but I don't know whether the feeling is mutual.

Am I being possessive? Or should I walk away? I am so tired of trying to be rational about all this. I feel like he is having an emotional affair.  Would love your opinion.

Arielle
London, UK"

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Before we get into my Dating Dish Tip, let's take a look at DRAMA OF THE WEEK #2 for another scenario you might relate to.

My response below will apply to both questions...


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DRAMA OF THE WEEK #2: "My Boyfriend's Too Chummy With His Co-Worker"

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Here's another reader email on the topic:


"Hi Paige,

My boyfriend is really friendly with a female co-worker and it's driving me crazy. They eat lunch together every day (just the two of them), they IM each other all day long even though they work a few cubicles away, and they're always going out for happy hour drinks after work. I'm never invited.

He told me she wasn't attractive, but when I met her (by accident, we bumped into her on the street) I was floored by how pretty she is. I'm even more freaked out by how stand-offish she was to me. It seemed like she went out of her way to reference all of their inside jokes in front of me so I'd feel left out.

My boyfriend says that there's never been any physical contact whatsoever - she's just a 'buddy' and that he's in love with me. She's engaged to another guy and my boyfriend claims that the fiancÚ is fine with the situation.

Am I being unreasonable or is this inappropriate?  Is this emotional infidelity? 

Green with jealousy,
Katrina Needham, MA"


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PAIGE'S DATING TIP FOR WOMEN: "To Save Your Relationship, You Need to
Set Boundaries"

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My response:

To Arielle, Katrina, and anyone else who may be experiencing a similar dilemma...

First things first: NO... you are NOT being unreasonable or overly possessive. Your reaction - confusion, hurt, feeling insecure or threatened - is absolutely normal under the circumstances. If the relationship your boyfriend has with his girl "friend" or work "buddy," WASN'T raising a red flag for you, THAT would be abnormal!

Of course trust is an essential component to any successful relationship. I'm not trying to stir up suspicion or encourage jealous or possessive behavior. Your boyfriend may very well love you and not feel one iota of attraction toward his "friend," as he claims. However, no matter what his (or his "buddy's") motives are, the truth is that the behavior is inappropriate.

Even if it's true that there has been no physical contact, the level of EMOTIONAL intimacy that's present in their so-called friendship is disrespectful to you.  Emotional affairs can be one sided, or not even recognized, but they are still hurtful and threaten your relationship.

The good news is that your guy probably never had any intention to cheat and therefore didn't premeditate this situation. The intimacy most likely developed slowly, over time, without him realizing what was happening.

In Arielle's case, her boyfriend may just be an outgoing, friendly guy who enjoys friendships with women. He may be more sensitive than most guys and able to communicate freely, which may be why he prefers to hang with girl FRIENDS. OR there could be more to it. He could be insecure about himself and boosts his ego by keeping a harem of girl "friends" around to make himself feel desirable, in demand, and with plenty of options should his relationship with Arielle go sour.

For the sake of argument, let's say his motives ARE totally pure (he just wants to be there for his friends, he enjoys their company), his actions are inappropriate and are likely laying the groundwork for a possible future infidelity.

One problem is that he is spending lots of his free time with these women. (Arielle mentioned that he sees at least two women 2 times a week... that doesn't leave much time left over for Arielle!)

The more dangerous problem is that he's become the confidante of these women - keeping one company while her husband is away, helping the other one through the breakup of her marriage. If these women are opening up to him about intimate details of their lives, I have no doubt that he's sharing his personal thoughts and feelings with them... thoughts and feelings that should be reserved for Arielle.

In Katrina's case, the office environment can be tricky...

These days, we're not just working 9 to 5 ... 10 hour workdays (and longer) are becoming the norm for many people in the corporate world. When you spend so much time in one place, you're bound to develop a social life within the constraints of your work environment.

When those social ties are appropriate (same-sex friendships or acquaintance-level, platonic opposite-sex friendships) it's a perfectly healthy, acceptable, and even vital way to get through the workday.

However, problems can occur when opposite-sex friendships develop without proper boundaries in place. It may start with personal jokes - silly banter or office pranks that they share to cut through the boredom of a workday (think Jim and Pam from TV's "The Office"). This is dangerously close to flirting.  They have no intention of having an emotional affair, but it sort of just ... happens.

Then they continue to slide down the slippery slope of office intimacy... for example Katrina's boyfriend may start sharing news of his career successes and failures with his work 'buddy' first (or exclusively), which creates a bond with her that should be reserved for his partner in life, Katrina. From there, it becomes easy to start sharing tidbits about his personal life "Katrina's a lousy cook, but she tries," and finally revealing extremely intimate details about your relationship, "We got in a huge fight last night and she made me sleep on the couch." This is very dangerous, as it is a violation of the trust and closeness a boyfriend and girlfriend share and opens the door to a possible infidelity.

If this is happening with your boyfriend, you are right not to take this lightly. In fact, a recent study shows that 62% of all affairs start in the workplace!

So whether it's with a new or old "friend," a co-worker, or any woman in your man's life... how can you tell whether a friendship is fine or is crossing the line?

Ask yourself the following questions:

* Is he interacting with her on a regular basis by CHOICE (e.g. they work on different floors but routinely meet in the cafeteria for lunch) rather than necessity (e.g. they're in the same department at work)?

* Is he overly secretive about her, or does he talk about her constantly and emphatically (e.g. "Cassie's so funny!" "Cassie's so easy to talk to ...")?

* When they spend time together, do they exclude others (friends, significant others, co-workers) so they can "catch-up" one on one?

* Are you excluded or made to feel unwelcome when they spend time together?

* Do you get the sense that he's trying to keep you and his "friend" from meeting?

* If you have met her, does she act awkward, uncomfortable, rude or competitive?

* Does he confide in her about personal matters? Does she know details about your relationship?

* Does he compare you to her (e.g. "Stop nagging me! Why can't you be laid-back like Cassie?")?

If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, you may have reason to be alarmed.

So what can you DO about this emotional infidelity?

Here's an action plan to help put a stop to it before things go any further:

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PAIGE'S SIX-STEP EMOTIONAL INFIDELITY ACTION PLAN:

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1. BEGIN BY GIVING HIM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.

Some men truly don't recognize that their friendships with women cross over into inappropriateness and have no intentional of emotional infidelity or physical affair. 

2. EXPLAIN YOUR FEELINGS.

Try saying something like, "I love the relationship that we have and I trust YOU, but I am uncomfortable with how close you are to Cassie."

3. CLARIFY THAT IT'S NOT THE MOTIVE, IT'S THE BEHAVIOR.

Your boyfriend may truly see nothing wrong with his special friendship, especially if he truly has no romantic feelings toward her. Explain calmly that his motives behind the friendship are not in question, but that his behavior (spending one-on-one time with her, confiding in one another, not integrating you into the friendship) is inappropriate for someone in a committed relationship and it needs to change.

4. SET SPECIFIC BOUNDARIES.

Let your boyfriend know, in no uncertain terms, what you are and are not comfortable with. For example, "I'd prefer that you and Cassie not spend time alone, but I'd be happy to go out as a group."

5. GET PROACTIVE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP.

Show your boyfriend that he doesn't need to look to another woman to get his emotional needs met. You can do this by demonstrating more of an interest in his life. For example, instead of just saying, "Hi honey, how was your day," try getting more specific, "So...tell me about the big client pitch today!"

6. RESPECT YOURSELF ENOUGH TO FOLLOW THROUGH IF HE DOESN'T RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES.

If your boyfriend violates the boundaries that you set (or refuses to agree to them in the first place), break off the relationship. He can't have his cake and eat it too, and you deserve to be with a man who will make you the #1 woman in hislife... NO CONTEST.


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Let's face it, - dating and relationships can be confusing, frustrating, and majorly challenging.

Luckily, you don't have to figure it all out on your own!

In my ebook "Dating Without Drama," you'll not only learn to IDENTIFY THE SOURCE of your dating dilemmas... You'll also discover how to OVERCOME the challenges you DO have and learn healthy, confident behaviors that will help you become a drama-free dater from this day forward!

To download your very own copy (and be reading every juicy piece of valuable advice in a matter of minutes) just follow this link:

http://tinyurl.com/datenodrama


Thanks for joining the DISH!

Your friend,
Paige

PS - Know someone who's the "odd woman out" in an emotional infidelity love triangle? Forward her this email so she can take control of her love life too!

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